Education

Top scientists engage youngsters in Kids’ Tech University at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Paul Morris knows that Kids’ Tech University presented at Bowling Green State University has a lot going for it. Each of the four weeks features an esteemed scientist who knows how to talk to children age 9 to 12 about their research. And then the kids have carefully designed activities related to the science that allow students to do the work of science themselves. Then there’s Morris’ hair. He sports a frizzy mop of white hair. Morris said he’s gotten enough comments on it, he’s decided to stop cutting his hair. “I look the part.” It’s a silly way to get across a key element of the program. “The idea that children are being directed by a real scientist that’s part of the excitement we want to capture.” Registration is now underway for the program that runs four Saturdays throughout the semester starting Feb. 11 and continuing Feb. 25, March 18, and April 8. Each starts at 10 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m. or so. Registration is $90. Visit http://kidstechuniversity-bgsu.vbi.vt.edu/. The mission is to get children excited about science, technology, engineering and math before they get into middle school. The Feb. 11 session will feature Dr. Jennifer M. DeBruyn, who works at the Body Farm in Tennessee, a lab which studies decomposition of human bodies. DeBruyn is a microbiologist who studies how all manner of matter decomposes. Her talk is: “Life after Death: Exploring the decomposer organisms that recycle corpses back to soil.” In the afternoon, Morris said, students will do an array of experiments involved in forensics, including fingerprinting and DNA analysis…


BG Schools facing big issues in 2017 – buildings, levy, drug testing, contract talks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education met to reorganize this morning for a new year heavy with weighty issues. Filling their plate are school building issues, the proposed income tax renewal, contract negotiations, possible drug testing, and curriculum questions. “There are a lot of big decisions,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said Tuesday morning. The board elected officers for the new year, with Ellen Scholl being named president and Jill Carr being named vice president. The other board members are Bill Clifford, Ginny Stewart and Paul Walker. One of the biggest issues facing the school board is a decision on whether to build a new consolidated elementary building to the north of the middle and high schools, or renovate the existing elementaries. “We need to make a decision on where we’re going with facilities,” Scruci said. A series of community meetings have been held to explain the options and gather public input. However, attendance has been limited, and the school board and superintendent want more citizen involvement. “I need more community input,” before making a decision, Carr said. Scruci has gotten one estimate from a professional survey firm, but the price was higher than he had expected at $12,500. The firm informed him that the use of cell phones and lack of landlines makes contacting people much more difficult and costly. Scruci said he would seek estimates from other survey firms. “We’re trying to get a better pulse on the community,” the superintendent said. The school board will also hear from at least two more companies offering drug testing of students. The board…


Some of the stories that clicked for BG Indy in 2016

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News If you ask those of us involved with BG Independent News, the biggest news of 2016 was that we got this enterprise started and weathered our first year. This has been a great venture that has both challenged and rewarded us, if not enriched us. We pride ourselves on writing the best stories about Bowling Green, its immediate surroundings and area arts and entertainment scene. We’ve been heartened by the fact that we’ve had close to 160,000 users and 600,000 page views since the website was launched in late January. For that Jan McLaughlin and I thank you, our readers. It’s been a great ride. As we start a new year, we thought we’d go back and see just what stories drew the most traffic in the previous one. I decided on a top 30 of the more than 1,700 stories we’ve published. That includes the bylined stories that make up the heart of BG Independent News, but also Community Voices, Opinion, Obituaries and Newsbreak (though not the event listings that get lumped into What’s Happening in Your Community). (See the list of links at the end of the story.) The story that drew the most traffic was “The day the pizza died,” which is by neither of the principle writers. The rumors of Myles Pizza closing had been in the air for well over a year. When Chip Myles finally called it quits, I was headed out of town for a funeral, so Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel, from Zibbel Media and an accomplished writer, stepped in and wrote her elegy to the beloved local pizza…


Screenwriter plants seeds for stories in students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Screenwriter Karen Leigh Hopkins planted some seeds in a Crim fourth grade class Wednesday. Then she stood back and watched them grow like crazy. She teased the students with ideas swirling in her head for her next script. There’s the street dogs versus the wealthy dogs – a type of doggie Downton Abbey. There’s the entomologist forced to give up the study of bugs to become an exterminator. “I’ve got a bazillion other ideas I could write,” she said, stretching her arms out wide. They are jotted down anywhere possible. Backs of notebooks, store receipts. But on Wednesday, Hopkins was looking for ideas from the Crim fourth graders – feeding their imaginations then showering the seeds with praise as they blossomed before her eyes. Hopkins is all about the “what ifs.” What if Santa found out he was adopted and his other family was Jewish? What if you were on a ride at Cedar Point and it got stuck, leaving you stranded in a parallel universe? That’s all she needed to say to open the flood gate of ideas. Hopkins’ first idea was a pirate ride gone wrong. But she wanted something fresher, more creative.  Hands shot up, and she called on students bursting with ideas. “Polka dots,” she said, pointing to the girl dressed in dots. “Santa hat,” “red dress,” she said calling on students and reacting to each plot as the next great blockbuster. “Instead of pirates, there could be cats,” one student offered. “You guys blow my mind,” Hopkins said to the room full of raised hands. The ride…


BG Schools takes step to renew income tax in May

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education took the first step Tuesday toward putting an income tax renewal on the May 2017 ballot. The millage will remain at 0.5 percent, but the duration of the income tax is still unknown. District Treasurer Rhonda Melchi said that timing will be known when the school board takes the next step in January to put the tax issue on the ballot. The income tax generates $3.34 million annually. The income tax for the district began in January of 1993 and has been renewed every five years since. It makes up 11 percent of the district’s general fund revenue. Earlier this fall, when talking about the income tax renewal, Melchi said the board will have to decide whether to stick with a five-year tax or ask for a continuing tax. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci reported on the success of the “Adopt-a-Door” program, asking for $200 donations to put new security looks on each door in the district. So far, 135 doors have been “adopted” and another 15 have been pledged. That leaves 190 doors still available for donors. The security systems will be installed on the doors by the end of January, Scruci said. “It’s been amazing, to see the community support,” he said. Also at the meeting, high school science teacher Josh Iler gave a presentation on the efforts to transform the school courtyard and land lab into usable learning spaces. The students are learning about plants, wildlife, hard work and patience, he said. “It’s a lot more work than you might imagine,” Iler…


Middle school musicians in BGSU Honors Band

Submitted by KAREN PENDLETON Seventeen Bowling Green Middle School students were selected to participate in the Bowling Green State University Honors Band Clinic held at BGSU on November 10th. The BGMS students had the privilege of performing under guest conductors Damien Crutcher, Chief Executive Officer of Crescendo Detroit: and Joseph Dobos, Conductor of Wayne State University Concert Band. The students selected to participate were Dyllan Atkin, Matthew Bowlus, Lucy Busselle, Samantha Codding Colin Crawford, Brynn Depinet, Sarah Elder, Culley Foos, Gianna Hemming, Kelsey Kerr, Heather Knowlton, Cyrus Koogan, Simon Metzger, Nolan Miller, Joe Porter, Jordan Schuman and Eli Smith. Congratulations on their great performances! Bobcat Middle School band performs their Holiday Concert on Dec. 6 at the Performance Arts Center and Bowling Green High School at 7 p.m.


‘Dear Santa’ makes local Christmas dreams come true

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some Santas defy the storybook image of a white-bearded man dressed in red and conveyed by reindeer. Here in Bowling Green, the Santas are more likely to wear jeans and pack gifts in pickup trucks. For the eighth year, the Dear Santa Society in Bowling Green will do its best to answer the Christmas wishes of about 40 families. The organization, founded by Jim and Dee Szalejko, goes well beyond buying teddy bears and candy canes. Through the generosity of the community, the Dear Santa program has given such gifts as a violin and music lessons to a child whose greatest wish was to learn how to play, ballet lessons for a child who dreamed of dancing, and baseball registration fees for a child who longed to play ball. One year, the local Santas delivered bicycles to an entire family. Another year, the program received a special plea from a local child, whose family was on the verge of being evicted after missing two months’ rent. “All I want for Christmas is to be able to stay home,” the child wrote. So the Dear Santa program paid the overdue rent. This year, the group plans to help a young swimmer whose family can’t afford the program fees, and help pay the way to Disney World for a marching band member whose family can’t swing the costs. “It’s unbelievable, the need in the city,” said Dee Szalejko as she prepared for another year as the local Kris Kringle. The Dear Santa program actually had its start 28 years ago in Philadelphia, when Jim…


Former BGSU chief talks about OSU attack response

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Monica Moll, formerly the police chief at BGSU, was on the job about a month at Ohio State University when her new campus came under attack. On Monday, a man plowed his car into a group of people and then pulled out a knife and charged at victims. Eleven people were hospitalized after the attack. Within a couple minutes, the attacker, student Abdul Razak Ali Artan, had been shot and killed by OSU Police Officer Alan Horujko. The incident was resolved in about the best possible manner, said Moll, now the director of public safety at OSU. “We had an officer in the right place at the right time,” she said on Thursday. Horujko had been responding to a report of a possible gas leak in the area of the attack. The officer credited his training for his quick response. “It all went according to planning,” Moll said. The university’s active shooter training and campus alert system are being credited for helping the community maintain order while the scene was secured. The campus is one of the largest in the U.S., with nearly 60,000 registered students. Law enforcement from the region responded, with officers arriving from Columbus police and fire departments, Ohio State Patrol, ATF, FBI, Homeland Security, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and other nearby campuses. OSU Police Chief Craig Stone said his officers train annually to handle active shooters, on defensive tactics and firearms. “The good news is, they have a well-oiled machine down here,” Moll said. The dispatch center was bombarded with reports and questions as the incident unfolded. “They…


Old one-room school gets new home on the farm

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The historic one-room Zimmerman School taught a lesson in patience Wednesday. In two hours, the school had crawled almost one-third of a mile across a corn stubble field to its new home. The Wood County Park District decided to move the 1892 brick school from its home at the corner of Carter and Nelson roads to the site of the Carter Historic Farm one country block to the north. The move was done across farm field rather than down the road. “We don’t have to worry about wires or the traffic,” explained Neil Munger, director of the park district. But there was nothing quick about moving the 210-ton building. As the school inched its way across the field, a skid steer kept circling it to move steel plates from the back to the front of the building so the tires did not sink into the soil. The person controlling the process sat next to the school and moved a joystick to direct the route. The destination was a spot dug out in the field behind the Carter Farm, with the footer already there waiting. Once in place, Munger said the final tuck pointing and repair work will be completed. “It will be better than ever,” he said. The one-room school will be an easy trek from the farm, so kids visiting can walk to school, “just like Sally used to,” Munger said. The building was moved by Wolfe Building Movers, of Indiana. Officials from company took one look at the structure, and said “absolutely, we’ve moved bigger things than this,” Munger said….


Gardner says state testing changes are likely

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State legislators have been listening to school officials concerned about too much testing for students with too little input from educators. On Tuesday evening, State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said there is an “excellent chance” that school testing requirements will be changed. “I think there is substantial agreement” that changes are needed, he said when contacted by phone. That should be good news to the more than 300 school superintendents and board members who  rallied in Columbus Tuesday to ask state legislators to rework the graduation requirements in Ohio. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci joined the “historic” rally Tuesday morning at the Statehouse. About half of the superintendents in Ohio took part in the rally to raise the issues of over-testing of students, inaccuracies of district “report cards” from the state, and graduation requirements. “Decisions continue to be made without the input of those on the ground and in the classrooms,” Scruci at the Bowling Green Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening after he returned from Columbus. Scruci said it was “disappointing” that no legislators attended the rally. “I did not see one legislator who felt compelled to come out to see what going on.” But it appears legislators have been listening. Gardner, who was just named Senate Majority Leader on Tuesday, said he has been meeting with the Senate Education Committee chairman and state school superintendent on changing the testing requirements for graduation. Gardner said some of the testing has been mandated by the federal government. However, the new Every Student Succeed Act grants states more flexibility, he said. “We…


Superintendents rally against state testing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci joined a rally this morning against too much testing for students with too little input from educators. More than 300 school superintendents and board members joined forces in Columbus to ask state legislators to rework the graduation requirements in Ohio. “This is one of the first times superintendents have organized together to speak out,” Scruci said after the rally that was held during the annual meeting of the Ohio School Board Association. Also attending from Bowling Green was board of education member Bill Clifford. “It was a great opportunity for solidarity,” Scruci said. The concern is that the latest testing standards are expected to keep many students from graduating. The standards place too much emphasis on test taking – and not enough on daily learning, educators have said. “There needs to be some reform,” Scruci said. Educators are demanding that they be involved in the decision-making process for testing requirements. “We want the legislature to hear us and involve us in the decision-making,” Scruci said. Educators deserve to be part of a serious dialogue, he said. “We are working with kids every day.” Starting next year, students no longer will be required to pass the Ohio Graduation Test to receive a diploma. Instead, they will have to meet one of three options: earn 18 out of a possible 35 points on seven end-of-course exams taken during high school; get a “remediation-free” score on a college entrance exam; or obtain an industry credential indicating they are ready for a job. Across the state, school district officials have said…


Black Swamp Fine Arts School expands music offerings with ensembles for kids & adults

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Both Sophia Schmitz and Betsy Williams discovered a passion for music at an early age. Schmitz, of Perrysburg, started playing violin at 3, and was gigging when she was 11. “My mom’s an artist and my family is very musical so I was surrounded by that.” Williams, the youngest of six children, grew up in northern Kentucky with a musical mother who had the entire family singing every morning. Schmitz started teaching when she was in high school, but even before that had a goal in mind. “Since I was 12 it’s been my vision to open a studio.” For her part as the youngest of six, Williams got a late start on violin lessons. The cost of lessons was an obstacle. Her mother had taught her piano and the musical basics. “I taught myself several instruments before I settled on violin.” Those experiences and passion have now taken shape in their new endeavors. Schmitz founded the Black Swamp Fine Arts School in January, realizing her dream of opening a studio. Williams teaches violin, viola and cello at the school. Both are graduate students in the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts. As a BGSU undergraduate Schmitz had a minor in entrepreneurship, and in one class she had to put together a proposal for a business. When she started figuring out how much it would take to open a music studio, she realized she could make it work.  So last fall she met with lawyers and accountants, and with help pulled together a studio in space at 500 Lehman Ave. in Bowling…


BG students salute veterans for their service

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With patriotic band music playing and a sea of more than 400 American flags waving, the veterans marched into the auditorium. Some rather slowy, with canes. Some in uniform. All with dignity. One by one, they walked to the microphone, introduced themselves and gave shout-outs to the student audience members who invited them to the Veterans Day program. And one by one, the children, grandchildren or neighbors who brought the soldiers to the program, stood up, beaming with pride. “It melted my heart,” Mike Meeker, an Army veteran, said after the program as he hugged his daughter, Jasmine. “It means a lot.” Meeker was one of nearly 70 veterans honored during the annual Veterans Day program hosted by Kenwood Elementary on Thursday. “It was nice to have the recognition of my service,” Navy veteran Jeremy Prisk said as he reunited with his children in the lobby. “It was nice that my children got to take part.” Army veteran Chad Smith agreed. “It’s a really good celebration of a lot of hard work. It’s good to know that people still celebrate this.” Retired Kenwood teacher Kent McClary introduced the veterans before they paraded in. “These are the people, men and women, who when called to duty for their country, they all went,” he said. These were the fortunate ones who made it home, he reminded the children. “They all gave of themselves. They all love their country.” McClary spoke of the value of military service members. “We’ve needed help to maintain our freedom. When we needed them, they were there,” he said. “I’m…


BG studies school building options and costs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools is taking baby steps toward putting a bond issue for buildings on the ballot. Before school officials take the plunge – maybe as soon as next November – they want to know what district voters want for children, and what expense they are willing to support. “I don’t like to go to the ballot with a hope and a prayer,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Wednesday evening to a group of parents, teachers and community members gathered in Kenwood Elementary School’s gymnasium. This was one in a series of meetings Scruci is holding throughout the district to present information on the school building needs. While the audience had questions of the superintendent, he also had questions for them. Before putting any issue on the ballot, the district needs to know: Is there support for consolidating the three elementary schools into one building? How much are citizens willing to pay for improving school facilities? “We’re all ears at this point,” Scruci said. After community meetings earlier this year, the district is leaning toward paying for any building renovations or new construction with local funds. “Accepting state money doesn’t make a lot of sense for us,” Scruci explained since the state share would be 11 to 14 percent. “We’d have to play by their rules,” he added. “If we do this project as a community, we make all the decisions,” Scruci said. School officials are also favoring building a new consolidated elementary building on district land north of the middle school, rather than renovating the three existing elementaries. Another option is…


Keith Guion is a master of family entertainment

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Keith Guion wryly admits to being a bad influence on his three children. Guion is a theater devotee, as a director and writer, especially children’s theater. And all three of his children have followed his footsteps, and the Horizon Youth theatre and other troupes have been the beneficiaries. His daughter, Cassie Greenlee of Bowling Green, remembers when she was in fourth grade and had been offered the part of Annie in “Annie Warbucks.” She was concerned about taking the part, so she discussed it with her father and mother, Wendy Guion. They didn’t push her, rather discussed the pros and cons. She took the part. “That was the beginning of the end,” she said while waiting for a preview of her father’s current show, “The Fabulous Fables of Aesop.” Horizon Youth Theatre will stage the show Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Otsego High School. Tickets are $5 and available at the door and at horizonyouththeatre.org. Guion wrote the “Fabulous Aesop” script a number of years ago while working in the Ashland area. That’s where his children, including two sons Matthew and Jeffrey Guion, grew up and picked up the love of all aspects of theater. “I never really encouraged them to get involved,” their father said, “they just sort of did.” That included acting, all the theater crafts and writing. The play references 21 of the more than 600 fables attributed to Aesop, the storytelling slave from ancient Greece. Eight of them are acted out, while the rest are mentioned in passing. “The fables are about universal…